Sporting KC’s Sapong is MLS Rookie of the Year
Major League Soccer announced today that Sporting Kansas City forward C.J. Sapong has been named the 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year.
Sapong finished the MLS regular season with five goals and five assists while also becoming the only player on Sporting Kansas City’s roster to feature in all 34 of the club’s regular-season matches.
“Receiving this honor is very humbling, but it would never have been a possibility without the help of so many people. Our goal at Sporting Kansas City is to do everything as a team, and I am so thankful for my teammates and the coaching staff,” Sapong said. “My parents have been a huge influence in my life and have kept me level-headed, and all of my friends and family back in Virginia and at James Madison, plus all the great Sporting Kansas City fans in make winning the 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year even more special.”
After being selected with the 10th overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, Sapong announced his arrival to Major League Soccer by opening the scoring in Sporting Kansas City’s first regular-season match against Chivas USA in just the second minute of play. Sapong would then go on to score the first-ever goal at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, the game-winner against the San Jose Earthquakes on June 17. In total, Sporting Kansas City held an unblemished record of 5-0-0 in regular-season matches when Sapong scored a goal.
“The organization is extremely proud of C.J. We believed in him right from the start, but we didn’t expect him to come along and exceeded expectations the way he did,” Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes said. “We’re excited because C.J. has such a bright future for Sporting Kansas City.”
Of Sapong’s five assists on the year, two led to game-winning goals. Only midfielder Graham Zusi tallied more assists for Sporting Kansas City in the 2011 season. Sapong also added three goals in Sporting Kansas City’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup campaign and scored the final goal for Sporting Kansas City in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Colorado Rapids.
Sapong becomes the first player in club history to be recognized with the award.
All first-year players in MLS without previous professional experience were eligible for the Rookie of the Year award, voted by media, MLS players, and MLS club management. Sapong led the voting by an overwhelming margin in all three categories.
The other two finalists were D.C. United defender Perry Kitchen and Philadelphia Union midfielder Michael Farfan.